Author Archives: dianeD_admin

Six Great Reasons to Use a Licensed Electrician

It’s tempting to hire a repair person to do the electrical work for that home improvement project. Heck, it seems like an easy job – why hire a more expensive electrical contractor when your repair person or Cousin Joe says he can do the work?

The saying “you get what you pay for” rings true when it comes to electrical work! Shoddy work can result in appliances not working properly, fuses and circuit breakers blowing, the need to rewire circuits and worst of all – fire hazards!

Here are six reasons why you should hire a licensed electrical contractor:

  1. We are licensed by the states of Maryland and Virginia, which have stringent training and experience standards. To become a master electrician (which I am in both states) you need up to seven years of experience and demonstrated skills.
  2. Licensed electricians in Maryland and Virginia are required to have a certain number of Continuing Educational Units (CEU’s) to renew their licenses. I take training from reputable local providers and read several trade publications every month to stay up to date.
  3. Because of our on-going training, we are up to date on city, county, and state electrical code Licensed contractors can pull permits and schedule the necessary inspections and approvals. The benefit of permits is that there’s no danger of having your project be out-of-code.
  4. We carry workers’ compensation as well as general liability and catastrophic event insurance. Your unlicensed Cousin Joe is not likely to have this insurance, which means YOU are liable for any injuries or damages on your property. It’s even possible your insurance company could deny claims.
  5. I am a factory-certified Generac generator technician, and, as required, I take training yearly to renew my technician certification.
  6. We’ve been in business for more than 15 years and have earned an excellent reputation in the communities we serve and the professional organizations to which we belong (the Frederick County and Mt. Airy Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Club, the Electric League of Maryland Inc., and the Electrical Generating Systems Association).

Contact Little Sparkie Electric for all your commercial, residential, and industrial electrical contracting and service needs!

EV charger

Electric Vehicle Sales Boom! Little Sparkie can Safely Install YOUR EV Charger!

Are you one of the thousands of Maryland residents that now has a plug-in electric vehicle (EV)? According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, the state has more than 25,000 electric vehicles registered. *

Frederick County boasts the third highest percentage of electric vehicles – .76% of all vehicles registered in the state – for a total of 1,953 vehicles, according to Pluginsites.org. **

Before buying an EV, have a qualified electrician install a new, dedicated circuit for your EVEV charger charging device. Older home wiring may not be suitable for use with EV supply equipment.

Your electrician can best determine how to get the power from the breaker panel to the desired charger receptacle or hardwired unit location (your charger). Your professional will explore whether there is physical room and electrical capacity in the panel and what path the cable needs to take.

Next, depending on how much battery capacity your EV has, determine how fast  you want the batteries to charge. More batteries and/or those with greater capacity take longer to charge than those with fewer/lesser capacity.

Your electrician will then determine what amperage draw the unit is designed for, and whether it needs a neutral wire (which carries the circuit back to the original power source). This determines the wire size and whether the cable needs two wires or three.

 Residential chargers have three basic levels of charging speed:

  • Level 1 is any 120-volt receptacle. This generally takes all night or longer to charge, depending on the vehicle.
  • Level 2 is what most people want. It uses anywhere from a 40- to a 60-amp circuit, with a charge time of about five to seven hours. Some cars have a charging cable with a plug that needs a receptacle, while others have a hardwired wall unit to which the charging cable connects.
  • Level 3 charging delivers more power, faster – in a few minutes compared to hours. Given the high-voltage supply required for Level 3 charging (and the higher price point), they aren’t typically installed in residential locations. They’re much better suited as free-standing units in commercial locations that have an ample power supply.

We’ve installed dozens of electric vehicle chargers, and can advise you on the type of charger that best meets your needs and ensure a safe installation. Call or contact us today!

*As of September 2021
** Behind Montgomery County with 1.61% and Howard County with 1.52%

Seeking PT Generator Technician

We are seeking a generator maintenance technician for flexible PT work hours. Immediate need. Mechanical ability is a must. Generators are as much of a machine (like a car) as they are electrical and/or electronic appliances.

Mechanical and electrical experience are a plus, but work ethic and personality are more important. Willingness to learn is paramount. Will train theJoin our team right person.

Maturity and the ability to relate to customers are a must. Competitive wages commensurate with experience and competence. Non-stuffy work environment – we have fun on the job. Military veterans, auto mechanics, and semi- or totally-retired people who would enjoy a challenge and an opportunity to earn additional income are also encouraged to apply.

Please email your resume to [email protected]

Space heaters can cause fires and electric shocks

Temperatures will dip below freezing next week, and you my be looking to a space heater to warm up your office. But those little heaters can cause big problems if not used correctly.
Here’s some advice from the Electrical Safety Foundation International regarding space heaters:
– They should have the certification of an independent testing laboratory.
– Keep them 3 feet away from anything that can burn, such as paper, clothing and rugs.
– Plug them directly into a wall outlet – not an exdtension cord or power strip, which could overload and result in a fire.
– Don’t plug any other electrical device into the same outlet as the heater.
– They should be turned off and unplugged at the end of the work day or whenever you leave the room.
– Keep them out of high traffic areas and doorways, where they might pose a tripping problem.
– Employers shuold have a specific policy regarding space heaters, and educate employees about safe heater practices.

Little Sparkie Electric Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Neither a volatile economy nor a pandemic has hampered the growth of Little Sparkie Electric, LLC. Catherine Nazarene, managing member and a working licensed Maryland and Virginia Master Electrician, has built her successful business by focusing on hard work, excellent service, and diversifying her service offerings.

Although she launched her Mt. Airy-based business on January 1, 2007 as the Great Recession was hitting, her first paying job came just two days later.  The business has steadily grown ever since, and this past year Little Sparkie Electric was again among the Top Five Finalists in the Frederick News Post’s “Best of the Best” contest in the Electricians category.

Nazarene’s husband, John, also works in the business; they also employ a secretary/bookkeeper, Carla McRorie, a part-time electrician, Vic Weinberg, and a generator maintenance technician, Stewart Lentz.

Growth and Change through the Years

Nazarene also credits membership in the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and other business associations for helping to grow the business. “We really value the resources and referrals the members provide to one another, and we believe association membership has been a key part of our growth these past 15 years. As the saying goes ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ The numerous networking opportunities mean that everybody wins and that is how I like to do life! I like also to have resources to refer to customers and others who need referrals for just about anything. The more I know about what other businesses do, the better I can help those who come to me.”

Little Sparkie Electric works with commercial and industrial businesses, farms, churches and other houses of worship, and residential customers, on a wide variety of projects, and serves customers in Frederick, Carroll, Howard, and Montgomery Counties, along with those in Western and Southern Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

“We offer a full range of electrical and backup power services, but I love challenging situations, where we play detective as we track down and correct electrical issues, ask and answer questions, suggest and implement solutions,” noted Nazarene.

One of her long-time customers, Chuck Wade Sod Farm, testified to her skills: 

“The largest project Catherine did for us at the Chuck Wade Sod Farm was lighting and an exterior fan for a new outdoor patio project. To do the project, she needed to run the conduit through the basement foundation to the patio,” explained Kris Wade.

“It was a complicated job – it took a lot of endurance, and it took her two or three days – but she accomplished the job. Catherine doesn’t care about the difficulty factor – she’ll tackle any job and do it properly.

“And she’s always prompt, which you can’t say about all contractors,” Wade added.

Installing and servicing Generac generators has also been an area of steady growth through the years. “Many electricians don’t work on generators, and many generators are not installed by electrical contractors,” explained Nazarene. “Generators are as mechanical as they are electrical. They’re often likened to cars or trucks without wheels,” she added.

Nazarene recently took courses to renew her Generac Commercial Level II technician certification, which means the business is factory authorized to sell, install and service large commercial generators and residential systems that have a rating up to 150 kW.

Another change the business has seen in the last 15 years is an increase in regulations. “We’re in the sixth National Electrical Code cycle since we started in the business!” said Nazarene. There are many reasons for the proliferation of regulations,  most of which are about safety, the main focus of the NEC. Alternative energy is a big one. “Articles in the Code now take into consideration solar and wind power, energy storage and fuel cells, and specialized batteries for electric vehicles. We’ve installed charging stations and wired solar photovoltaic, aka PV, installations as well.  In fact, we are installing a lot more electric vehicle (EV) chargers than ever before,” she noted.

Other changes in the past five years include:

  • LED lighting for productivity at work, in healthcare and assisted-living settings, and for virus and bacteria control.
  • Since the virus panic hit in March 2020, we have seen an increase in home-office projects, residential remodeling projects, and service work of all types. Commercial work has been making a comeback though, as new businesses are born and existing ones recover.
  • Supply chain disruptions are no secret to anyone, they have been and continue to be a challenge to us, but we rise to meet them as we do any other challenge.

We feel very blessed to have so many wonderful customers who put their trust in us and our skills. We concentrate as always on improving those skills, keeping up with the latest tools and materials which are constantly evolving, and above all we continue to listen to our customers and offer solutions to their needs. In the years to come, I only see the human factor increasing as technology continues to develop.

We don’t really leverage technology, we leave that to the larger contracting firms. Instead, we focus on face-to-face contact, listening to our customers (!), and human interaction – when all is said and done, technology has its place, but we deal with people, and all of our customers are just that, PEOPLE. I have a strong feeling that they appreciate our sincere interest in them as human beings and our responsiveness to their questions and concerns. We love what we do, have fun on the job, and our customers often remark on this to us.

I’ve never stopped being optimistic about our future and have no fears at all. We will be able to meet whatever the economy and fate in general throws our way. Hard work and faith in God will carry us as we carry ourselves.

common lighting issues

3 Common Electrical Lighting Problems & What to do About Them

Here are some common household and business electrical lighting problems that can potentially cause fires.

1. Light switches that don’t work correctly.

Poor workmanship or substandard products can contribute to dimmer switches that don’tlight switch adjust light level properly.

If you’ve just moved into a new house and find switches that don’t seem to activate anything it could be a sign the switches have been superseded and fixtures removed, a switched receptacle or a problem in the outlet, circuit or wiring. It can also mean that a ceiling box is prewired for a fan.

Wiring issues can be dangerous, so if you’re not sure, call a licensed electrician.

2. Lights that are too bright or too dim.

There are several probable causes for these issues.  You may have different types of lights with different wattages; check to see that all light bulbs are the same. The second issue could be a bad neutral connection in the affected circuit, which will continue to cause problems until it’s fixed by a licensed professional electrician.

3.  Recessed lights that go out and come back on.

Recessed lighting is equipped with safety devices that cut out power to the light when it gets too hot.   If so, chances are you’re either using a bulb of too-high wattage, there’s a loose connection, or the insulation in the ceiling is too close to the bulb.

Safety is number One!  It’s always best to work with a licensed, experienced electrician.  Call us or use the contact form for all of your electrical needs.

Seeking a generator maintenance technician

Seeking a generator maintenance technician for flexible work hours. Immediate need.

Mechanical ability is a must. Generators are as much of a machine (like a car) as they are electrical and/or electronic appliances. Mechanical and electrical experience are a plus, but work ethic and personality are more important. Willingness to learn is paramount. Will train the right person.

Maturity and the ability to relate to customers are a must. Competitive wages commensurate with experience and competence. Non-stuffy work environment – we have fun on the job.

Military veterans, auto mechanics, and semi- or totally-retired people who would enjoy a challenge and an opportunity to earn additional income are also encouraged to apply.

Please email your resume to [email protected].

Window Air Conditioners – Don’t Assume You Can Just Plug Them In!

 Before long, furnaces will be turned off, and air conditioners will be cranked up.  Here in the Mid-Atlantic region, with its long history, many homes and businesses have been around for years. Because they were built before central air was available, they rely on window air conditioners.  Window air conditioning units can actually be the most cost-effective and efficient way to cool down a space, without cooling the entire building.

AC Size and Requirements

The size and electrical requirements of a window AC unit are the most important factors in determining whether it will need a dedicated circuit.   Some units are 110/120 volts, but most of those that I run circuits for are 240 volts, which does require a special receptacle.

A note here – when installing a special circuit, HVAC contractors and electricians should work as a team.  The electrical specifications from the unit’s “spec sheet” should be shared between them, as communication is paramount.

How Large is Your Space?

The size of the room being cooled is another factor and includes not only the square footage but the ceiling height.  Double-height ceilings are a relatively recent phenomenon, and I’ve found that homes and businesses with high ceilings almost always have central climate control.

Consider Other Appliances

AC units require a lot of power, so they should not share a circuit with other appliances or other loads and equipment.  Refrigerators, computers, washing machines and water heaters are examples of power-hungry appliances.

What Can Happen if I Don’t Have a Needed Dedicated Circuit for Your AC Unit?

Failing to consider all the above factors can cause several problems:

First, circuits can overload.  A circuit is a loop through which electrical current flows to power electrical devices and equipment.  Different circuits are built to supply varying amounts of electric current, based on the devices that will use the circuit.

When something is connected to a circuit that requires more electricity than the circuit can supply, the circuit overloads, which causes the breaker for that circuit to trip, and everything on that circuit will shut down.

Also, watch for overfusing, which means that the circuit wiring is too small for the rating of the breaker protecting the circuit. For example, 14-gauge wire in a circuit should not be protected by any fuse or breaker rated higher than 15 amps. An overloaded circuit may not trip if it is over fused.

A break in a hot wire can cause a series arc, which will not trip a standard circuit breaker or blow an old-style screw shell fuse, but it can cause a fire.

Finally, don’t plug your AC unit into an extension cord.  An undersized extension cord can cause overheating of the cord, which is a fire hazard. A bad connection between the appliance plug and the cord, and/or between the cord and the receptacle it is plugged into, could also be a fire hazard. Extension cords are not recommended except as a very temporary fix until a new circuit can be installed.

If you have questions about your AC unit, please use our Contact Us to give us a shout!

Generac generator

Catherine trained on new standby Generac Protector series

Catherine Nazarene, Little Sparkie’s managing member and a working licensed Maryland and Virginia Master Electrician, recently passed the Generac Generator exam and is now recertified by Generac as a technician. She received her first technician certification in 2007.

At the training she did a lot of work on the new Protector Series QS gaseous generator line. These units power sensitive business technologies and appliances during power outages, in addition to the usual necessary lights and receptacles.

Generac’s QS series offers benefits over other competitors. Engineered to run at only 1800 rpm Generac generatorfor substantially quieter performance, the Protector QS Series packs more power into a smaller footprint than some other models. They also have lower fuel consumption and longer engine and alternator life than other generators.

Weekly tests and remote monitoring

All of the Protector series backup generators run a weekly test to ensure the system is running properly. The Protector Series generator runs its self-test at a lower, quieter RPM, and can be programmed to run weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

This series also offers improved customer connection access, which helps to decrease installation costs. Generac also offers a cellular remote monitoring system that allows business owners to check the status of their generator from anywhere in the world, using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Automatic backup for large or custom homes and businesses

Looking to back up your entire home, or more items than usual? The Protector Series also has models for large or custom homes to power essential appliances and modern technologies during power outages, allowing homeowners and their families to continue living life comfortably and without interruption.  Businesses and their necessary operations are covered too.

Protector series generators are available in both single-phase and three-phase models, and while training for recertification as a technician, Catherine did quite a bit of work with Protector three-phase generators.

Three-phase generators work by producing three separate waves of AC power that operate in a sequence, ensuring that there is always a continuous flow of energy and that the power supplied tends to be steadier and more consistent as it may with single-phase generators. The type used depends on the application. Three-phase service is generally not available to residences in the USA. It is used in most commercial and industrial buildings. Three-phase power also allows the use of smaller motors and smaller wires to supply and utilize the same amount of energy.

For more information on our generator services, visit https://www.littlesparkie.com/generators.

Electrical Safety While Working from Home

Are you still working or spending more time at home? Be sure to always plug into power safely and ensure #electricalcords do not become tripping hazards. Never run cords under rugs, carpets, doors, or windows. Follow these electrical safety tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International to keep you and your home safe from #electrical hazards.

Get the full details on this downloadable pdf.